Back when I first started covering the Tokyo Game Show for TouchArcade, prolific RPG producer Level-5 could always be counted on for a fairly big booth with a blend of mobile and console games on offer. At recent shows, the company’s presence has been significantly smaller. The Yo-Kai Watch gravy train slowed down quite a bit, and Level-5 seemed to struggle with finding a new direction. Well, this year Level-5 was back in full force, proudly boasting about its noteworthy twenty-five years in business. But what about the company’s future? I had a look at what was on offer, and it seems as confusing as ever.
At its large, elaborate booth, Level-5’s representatives were handing out rather gorgeous booklets celebrating the company’s 25th anniversary. It goes into the past of the company and talks about its various franchises. It really is something to see it all laid out, from the humble beginnings of Dark Cloud on the PlayStation 2 to its stellar work assisting Square Enix with development on Dragon Quest 8 and Dragon Quest 9, into the boom years where it introduced the Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, and Ni no Kuni franchises and the absolute explosion of Yo-Kai Watch. We can see the company bet big on mobile, a bet that seems to have not paid off the way it had hoped. And then we see the potential future for the company, bringing forward a mix of familiar brands and new ones.
For mobile gamers, the short version at this point in time is that there isn’t much coming. Inazuma Eleven: Victory Road will still be coming for iOS and Android along with Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4/5 versions, but that seems to be all Level-5 has planned. Indeed, Level-5 seems to be going back to the hardware manufacturer that brought it its greatest successes: Nintendo. Of its currently announced future titles, all of them will be coming to the Nintendo Switch. That includes Fantasy Life i: The Girl Who Steals Time, the aforementioned Inazuma Eleven, DecaPolice, Professor Layton & the New World of Steam, and Ushiro. DecaPolice will also be coming to PlayStation platforms. Some of these games were on display at the show, but if the mobile version of Inazuma Eleven was there, I couldn’t find it.
While Level-5 may be pivoting away from mobile at the moment, it’s still hard to predict where its future lies. Leaning hard into the Switch would have been a smart move a couple of years ago, but time is ticking on the console’s life span and Level-5 isn’t exactly known for keeping its schedules of late. There’s little arguing with how remarkable Level-5’s first twenty-five years have been, but despite its strong show of confidence at this year’s Tokyo Game Show, it’s difficult to say what the next twenty-five will bring.